Sunday, August 8, 2010

Another state, but not the state you think it is

Day 44. Brattleboro Vermont to Manchester New Hampshire. I'm in another state again, but it may not be the state you think I am referring to. We'll get to that in a minute or two.

Today was the second to last day of the ride from coast to coast. How can that be? Could we actually have ridden over 3,600 miles in 7 weeks? I guess so. I've got to tell you, the whole thing seems like a dream to me right now. The tough riding is definitely over. While I wouldn't call tomorrow's ride a walk in the park (at over 50 miles, that's still like riding from my house to Barrie), it is the second lowest mileage day of the trip. And one thing we know for sure, in one way or another, it has to be "net" downhill. We are, after all, going to end up at sea level and I know for sure that we are above sea level right now.

Before I get to today's ride, I'd like to leave you with my final thoughts on the state of Vermont. It is like America's own Switzerland. It's, quaint, pretty, neat, charming, historic (I found one covered bridge), and scenic. It's pretty much perfect.

Oh yeah, one other thing before I talk about today's ride. The other night tour leader Mike's wife Barb gave us a few tips on adjusting to post-ride life. In no particular order, they were:

-don't throw away the non-cycling clothes that you've been in all summer and are sick of; wait until next year, pull them out, consider wearing them, and then throw them out
-the bathroom is in the same place every night at home
-you can't get into your own house with one of those motel plastic card keys
-wait a week and then go cycling with your normal group; you will effortlessly smoke them!
-and last but not least, you may want to cut back on the eating

So, to commemorate the "eat less" thought, last night I walked down to get some ice cream with 18 year old Matt (of the father and son tandem team of Matt and Michael) to Brattleboro's own Fast Eddie's Ice Cream Shoppe. Matt is such a terrific kid/young man. He has a wonderful sense of humor and is a delight to talk to and swap stories with. I had a double scoop of "death by chocolate" with hot fudge and crushed oreos. Mmmmmmm. I guess I'll start cutting back on Tuesday.

Matt's father Michael tells the best jokes, one of which caused me to ride off the road due to laughter. It goes like this:

Guy 1: Researchers have recently discovered a food that can decrease a woman's sex drive by 90%.

Guy 2: Oh yeah, what food is that?

Guy 1: Wedding cake

I also learned that Michael has a 22 year old autisitic son (Matt's older brother) who has won a state disabled tennis championship. They sound like they are an amazing family. I'm sure Matt's going to do great things. He's a soccer player who has gotten way stronger this summer. I'd hate to play soccer against him this fall given how much muscle he's packed on in the past 7 weeks.

OK, one other thing. One of the riders named Todd made a project out of gathering everybody's thoughts on the ride and what they can take out of it. You can find them at:

There are many interesting comments, but the one that really stuck with me was by Kim from Washington. It is simple and profound at the same time. Kim's insight into the trip is that
any challenging goal in life can eventually be achieved when broken down into small pieces. That's a good and obvious insight that I completely missed. I agree completely.

So, back to this morning. After only one mile, we crossed the state line into New Hampshire. We are in our third state in 3 days. This is our 11th state/province. Amazing. New Hampshire isn't exactly Vermont. It's kind of a bit of a working-class Vermont. It's a little rougher, a little less charming, and so far, a little less scenic. However, the roads are better, so there you go. Score one for New Hampshire (by the way, where the hell is "Old Hampshire" anyway?).
Here I am crossing the state line today:
I pretty much rode alone today as everybody was waiting for other people or had other agenda for today's ride. That's OK. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride, alone with my thoughts. I did see Gary and Margot for a bit, saw the "Swiss Train" ahead of me (before they vanished in the distance), and rode the last 15 miles with Rick. We passed through the charming town of Keene and saw many signature New Hampshire stone fences. Rick is, quite simply, an awesome cyclist (this is his second cross-country ride).

On the overall route, today was billed as one of the top 5 tough days of the trip, with lots and lots of climbing. It wasn't like yesterday's climbing, which was kind of mini-Rockies with less altitude. Today saw us dealing with a lot of rollers and one particular short but nasty climb up Joe English hill that topped out at a 16% grade. It was tough to be sure, but not in the same class as the Western climbs. Most of the climbing is behind us now. There's just a big ocean 50 miles away.

I mentioned above that I'm in another state, but not necessarily the one you think I'm in. Yes, I am in New Hampshire, but I am also in a state of shock. I am 1 day away from my objective. This is within my grasp. If I can just stay upright and safe for 50 more miles, I'll realize a dream I've had since I first rode a bike. Wow.

FYI – the DQ Blizzard, Snickers, and milk shake count is static today:

13 Snickers
14 Blizzards
6 milk shakes

Now on to today's mail:

No mail today!

Here are my Garmin stats for today's ride:
This is Joe's blog:


  1. Don't really know how to congratulate you on your accomplishment, just simply glad to have your sorry ass home.

  2. Congrats Mark! There will be lots of time to relect and reminisce. Enjoy your ride to victory, it's an amazing accomplishment that few can boast. We're looking forward to seeing you on Wed.


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